“We’ll talk later.” Shane got out and helped unload the truck. Liam went and did his chores while Shane took care of his. Working with his hands helped Shane to not think about Claire.
He loved her, too. Ever since they were young kids, they’d been together. Liam didn’t know about the times he used to crawl into her bedroom. When his daddy had hit the whisky a little too heavy, Shane would lock his bedroom door, climb out of his window, and run to Claire’s house. She slept at the back of the house. He’d climb into the backyard and up the tree.
No matter the time, she never turned him away. Even when he used to visit her bedroom late at night, she would welcome him with open arms, except on his last appearance in her room. No, he wouldn’t think of that last occasion in her bedroom. Shane closed down. He couldn’t think of that one instant when he’d almost ruined their friendship forever.
In no time at all, night hit. The ranch hands had some dinner, a burned stew that Shane had cooked before they left. Liam and Shane were all alone in their big old house. Liam grabbed a beer from the fridge while Shane stuck with water. He never drank alcohol.
“What are we going to do about her?” Shane asked. Liam sat across from him.
“We need a cook.”
“So? How’s that going to help our situation with Claire?” Shane didn’t have time for the head games he liked to play.
“I think we should put an advertisement in the local paper and wait for her to call on it,” Liam said with a smile.
“And you think a girl like Claire will answer the ad for a housekeeping position?”
“Claire is a real smart girl, but she wants a family. She wants to feel wanted. We want her, so why don’t we just fucking have what we want?” Liam knocked back his beer. Shane thought about what he said.
Shane and Liam had shared women before. Being with the same woman had helped them deal, in some weird kind of way, with the desire they had for Claire.
“What if she doesn’t want us?”
“We’ve got nothing to lose. For too long we’ve not acted on our feelings for Claire. Some guy is going to take her away from us, and I’m not willing to let that happen. I know she’ll struggle to adapt, and we’ll have to prove to her being with two men isn’t a bad thing.”
They had some friends who shared a woman and had lived together in complete happiness. Two men who shared one woman in a loving relationship was possible.
Could he and Liam do the same with Claire?
The thought of her leaving was more than he could bear. Shane was willing to take the risk.
With a heavy heart, Claire watched her two friends leave. Something was wrong with her. After reading so many books on romance and love, she’d started to feel like a freak. She had a secret. She was in love with both of her friends. Liam and Shane had been a part of her life for as long as she could remember. Nothing had kept them apart.
They’d been friends since they were toddlers. They didn’t look down on her or view her as a pest. Most of her life she’d been left feeling like an outsider, the youngest member of her family who didn’t belong with them. While they talked and reminisced about the good times, she stood on the outskirts never knowing what it meant to be part of it all.
Sighing, she went back to her order form. Working at the decorating and supply store wasn’t the best job. At least she could afford a small apartment for herself and get out of her parents’ house. She did love her family, but whenever possible, she tried to stay clear of the family events.
Looking for work outside of Long Mead was her last chance to finally get over her feelings for her two best friends. Liam and Shane didn’t need her drooling over them. The rest of her day went by without a hitch, and she managed to get everything up and running before closing time at five.
Claire walked the short distance to her meager apartment above one of the shops. The cost of living had gone up in the last few months, and she couldn’t afford anything else.
A message flashed on her cell phone. She ignored it. Her mother would be calling to tell her about another party where she could meet a partner and settle down to marry. Claire didn’t want anyone besides Liam and Shane.
Her feelings were getting harder and harder to ignore. When Shane had started ordering her around, she’d wanted to jump over the counter and fling herself into his arms. Being with her friends made her want to never part from their company. Claire went to her small kitchen and started heating up some leftover pasta. She should diet. The weight had been piling on her in recent years, and she was tired of having a spare tire around her stomach. Maybe if she dropped a few pounds, Liam and Shane would start to notice her.